I would go from feeling rich one month because a freelance client had paid a bill, to not having a cent a month later.
There were times when it felt like I was running a pyramid scheme on myself. Needing to use money from a previous job to buy computer hardware to sell to the next client.
In retrospect, I was also too proud to ask for help. I let things get way out of control before my mother ended up taking out a personal loan to bail me out at one point. If I had asked for help earlier it would have been a cheaper problem to solve.
It took years to shed some of the residual behaviours, even after I started earning decent money. Despite having savings and reliable income I would still let bills run until they were overdue.
These days I'm a lot more proactive about personal finances and good money management, but it's hard to tell how much of that is just maturity, and how much is the fact that I no longer have problems with unstable income.
You wouldn't believe how many "wealthy" people do the exact same thing including not paying their subcontractors etc. My dad used to do electric installations in new built homes. Usually the larger the house and the wealthier the owner more excuses there would be when the time to pay came.Some of those "clients" took 2 years to get money out of them. Doing that to a small contractor you owe is pretty bad behaviour, but at the same time I can understand prioritising your outgoings if you have let's say an annual gas bill review and you know they'll not come after you until you're 3 months late. In such situation paying 89 days late is perfectly reasonable. Nothing bad about it.
I have extended family that have this problem with their supply of trades. Very keen to get the work done, but paying the bill is somehow not important enough to prioritise.
huh? What about the contract you agreed to when you took on the service that says you'd pay within 30 days (or whatever). I really don't understand the logic that says as long as you're willing to accept the consequences, it's ok/moral. It's one thing to have extenuating circumstances that force someone to choose between two bad choices, but to say that there's nothing bad about ignoring the due date on your bills just doesn't make sense.
I think that is what was meant by 'prioritizing outgoings'.
But, the terms of the contract are the terms. Pay late, pay a fee, or not, they’re still abiding by the terms. If we want different behavior, we need to make those desires known.
The fees and penalties at 60 and 90 days that are common in contract terms like we're talking about are there for when the client doesn't pay by the agreed 30 day term, aren't they? 30 days payment is the behavior that the company wants, pretty clearly. Yes, they're also agreeing to limited penalties if they don't meet the original terms, but those penalties don't apply until they've not meet the terms they agreed to (pay in 30 days). It's not a sliding interest rate scale - it's limited penalties (likely as a result of consumer protection efforts over time). Yes, of course paying by 89 days is handled in the contract. Likely so are additional penalties/repercussions for payment after 90 days too (ie the debt will be sent to a collection agency at 120 days), but that doesn't make paying on those terms 'okay', because they were covered in the contract.
I'm calling out the idea that there's nothing bad (immoral/unjust) going on if someone doesn't pay within the ordinary term expected unless it's been explicitly agreed to otherwise (not as a penalty, but as an acceptable payment schedule), aside from other moral arguments about extenuating circumstances, etc that might mitigate the responsibility for payment.
When I first founded my startup, I was vigilant about paying all of my contractors and vendors perfectly on time or early. As a business owner, I wanted to provide a great product and didn't want to chase people for money, and tried treating companies and people I worked with similarly.
What nice thought, and so utterly silly.
My company was largely geared towards large enterprises. When I started, I naively assumed that our relatively small fees, with easily cancelable month-to-month terms, would be so easy to stomach that these large enterprises would pay without issue if they found value, and would simply cancel if they did not.
But I found that the bigger the company, the more difficult it is to get them to pay anything. Big companies are more likely to wait until the day to pay, pay late and ask forgiveness, pay late and then ask for a discount to continue the service, or drag on a free trial as long as they can. These companies negotiate harder, spend more time going over insignificant line items, and generally create far more friction than much smaller companies.
I've had a relatively small $10k/year deals with big companies, where multiple attorneys negotiated agreements and haggled over price, their fees earning them multiples of the total contract value. Pushing folks to the limit, using disproportionate force, begging for leniency, and just generally playing dirty is the norm for large companies. Assuming morality plays any part in it is laughable.
I'm trying to point out that people who think there's nothing bad about it (as the original post I replied to stated) are completely missing something about the basic definitions of bad behavior. It's like some shared delusion or psychopathy that people seem to believe, because it's in their self-interest to believe it.
A business is not an individual, it's a collection of individuals each doing a specialized task that collectively make up a large system. Applying moral principles that are generally applied to individuals to organizations just doesn't work. There needs to be a different set or prioritization of moral principles to be effective in a large organization or system.
In my example (highly paid attorneys spending inordinate amounts of time negotiating a tiny contract), the attorneys themselves were not bad, they were instructed to zealously negotiate every contract. The finance folks that paid late are not bad, they were charged with keeping high cash reserves and to tolerate a certain level of legal risk.
As a straightforward example for reducing out-right fraud: Most individuals already know that fraud, lying and cheating is bad. If an individual scams someone, they are bad. In contrast, for a business to be "moral", it must routinely audit their work processes to make sure that fraud cannot accidentally occur, and also provide safeguards when "bad" individuals do it intentionally. If there are no safeguards (regardless of whether fraud occurs or not), the company is "bad". Conversely, if stringent and proper safeguards are in place, and yet someone within the organization is nevertheless able to devilishly get around them and commit fraud, then it's possible that the business is still moral.
The point here is that individual morality is not the same as organizational or systems morality. Lots of moral people can come together and become an immoral organization. Similarly, a moral organization can withstand lots of bad people within their ranks.
I personally prefer to think of organizations as being groups of people, each of which have moral obligations, and leaders have moral obligations to ensure that their organization as a whole (sum-of-parts) maintains moral behavior. So not so much the idea that the organization has some moral mandate, but the individual leaders. That view might fall apart in really large organizations; so I'm not sure.
Another twist is that large organizations (as clients in some theoretical exchange) might say : our payment terms will be 120 days, take it or leave it. That's bad on a different level (taking advantage of power imbalance), but if the vendor accepts the contract at that point I don't think one could point the finger at the payment behavior as being immoral in and of itself (assuming they keep to their stated terms). Some (many??) people would not put nearly as much moral weight on the act of using their power imbalance ("isn't that what competition is all about?") compared to the act of breaking their agreement, just because they can get away with it (another form of taking advantage of the power imbalance, but seemingly more sinister).
All that said, I'm just a dude in an armchair at his keyboard that finds this topic interesting, and willing to think about it a bit. I've never studied the philosophy of morality - although I guess I have a fairly strong internal sense of it for myself :)
They either can't afford it right away so they stall, or they CAN afford it, it's just that everything else in their life takes priority over sitting down to pay the bill. Pure negligence.
Any experienced contractor should have a clause that charges interest after some point. You can be "nice" about it by reducing the interest rate or extending the deadline on the next job after the client has made clear they can pay on time.
I used to work with a guy who was very well off. I was not. I suggested something for a fee, he immediately tried to bargain with me. It was little money and I needed it; it was nothing to him. To him it was a game. He was no sociopath, he just didn't understand hardship. I saw him do that quite a bit. I'm sure if he ever felt a hard pinch himself he'd realise it wasn't a game, be much more sympathetic, but... that wasn't going to happen. Genuinely nice guy too.
They may have high incomes, but if their outgoings are higher, they're still going to have problems.
It’s not even about income so much as not caring. Put yourself in the position of a very wealthy person, unless you are wealthy enough to have personal staff, what do you care about a $10k bill? It’s not a big deal to you and barely worth thinking about, you could easily just forget about paying it and think if it’s really important to pay in a timely manner someone will hound you and you’ll pay it then. You open the mail, see some bill notice, throw it on the kitchen table and hit the golf course.
If they're earning $1m/pa but spending $1.1m they may look outwardly wealthy, but aren't really. Contrast that with the person who also earns $1m/pa but only spends $500k. They're the wealthy ones, and also probably the ones with the smaller house, cheaper car, and $20m in the bank.
If you 'just forget' about bills, that suggests to me a personality that is worse with money rather than better, ie the type of person likely to spend on material goods rather than spending wealth.
Book recommendation: The Millionaire Next Door.
This study is an odd way of looking at what is already established and known...instability has a detrimental cognitive and psychological effect on people, in particular children, but its not limited to children and extends to people with fully developed brains.
I believe Gabor Mate talks in depth on this particular topic: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H9B5mYfBPlY is one interview, which references https://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/129/2/e460?ss...
I never had unstable income (maybe wishing I had more), but I definitely had some degree of these specific bad behaviors.
I feel (financial) maturity is a big part of this; As a parent now, I'm being intentional on how my kids earn allowance and think about spending.
Nothing wrong with this behavior as long as you pay on the due date. Schedule automatic payments on the due date & you'll hang on to the cash as long as possible, and you also won't forget to make payments & incur fees.
There is something about spending too much time on the same problem that may drive a person insane. I think it might create deep valleys over certain neural pathways that are shared with other important functions. For example after a year of grinding on the same problem of "get job" my mind has become hyper sensitive to patterns and hidden meanings like never before. I'll see a leaf blowing in the wind and my mind will sometimes slip into interpreting it as some symbolic message from the universe to help me find a job. In a way I can sort of understand these homeless guys that walk the streets talking to themselves - they might just be further along, so deep in this pattern recognition psychosis from trying to survive that their brains are telling them the whole world is talking to them directly.
Good for you man. I honestly believe that every person should lose their mind at least once. Once you've built up some insane reality, it'll always be there, and the space between is (IMO) kind of special. It's amazing how one can hold two completely contradictory storylines of the world in their head. And for me it helps with groking how different the inside of other peoples minds can be. How real it can feel. How fake my real is. How just as plausible their real could be.
For those interested, one of the easiest cheapest ways to lose your mind is to go live out in the woods for a while (bush fever). Seriously, if you've never had your bubble burst, it might do you some good.
Only 62% of articles published in Nature and Science actually replicated: https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-018-06075-z About a coin flip if you can believe a given headline at all.
A single article is a data point, not ironclad unimpeachable argument-ending fact.
(I could quibble and say the W&C structure is technically wrong, because it was done in non-physiological conditions, and subsequent studies did find very minor structural details for B-DNA when done correctly...)
Would this apply to group layoffs from blue colar industries, or general downturn in specific industries ? (for instance drivers as Uber/Lyft entered the market, and now that revenues are also lowering)
It seems to me there could be an awful lot of cases where income drop has little to do with a worker's brain health or memory capacities. We are contemplating automating whole industries, subsequent layoffs will also be par for the course, whatever performance the worker was showing.
Actually, we could remedy most of these comments by thinking about the title for a couple seconds.
This is not a “Math and Science Forum”.
It might be cheaper too than current system when you consider all the harm that poverty does to economy and workers.
A nice variant of basic income is minimal tax return when everyone gets tax return proportional to a small percentage of the total tax collected past year. This would allow to gradually reduce other forms of social payments, without introducing arbitrary fixed values for the amount of basic income.
I suspect obesity is frequently due to getting too little nutrition while getting enough/too much in the way of calories. You keep eating precisely because you are malnourished and it fosters cravings.
It can be eating heavily processed foods with extra sugar (in 1 of the 56 different approved names for sugar by the FDA). Or it can be from soda in myriad forms. Or packed and hidden in the aisles of a grocery store of, again, high prpocessed and low nutrient foods.
Or they're in a food desert in the extreme rural areas or the big cities.
And I'd definitely classify obesity as a type of malnourishment. Mal- just means bad.
If you have internet and food, are you still in poverty?
Which is true, and I would agree on most people being impoverished even if you think they are buried in gadgets and high fructose corn syrup. Most people I know, meet, and would see on the street I would almost always bet are to varying degrees psychologically harmed by their poverties, whatever form they take.
on edit: no wait, actually landing the first job required me getting advised to go to a particular place from a person that was a contact of someone from my last free schooling place. That guy later turned out to be a three counties class asshole but I guess I have to thank him for this.
I even think that most people would have no problem with a basic income type system when most basic goods are incredibly cheap to produce. After all, if it costs a penny out of your paycheck, then would you really mind if that covered the basic needs of everyone? The main issue I could see related to that would be if this somehow encourages population growth.
marx's capital lays this out.
"By now you won’t be surprised to learn that I first became aware of how important growth and protection behaviors are in the laboratory where my observations of single cells have so often led me to insights about the multicellular human body. When I was cloning human endothelial cells, they retreated from toxins that I introduced into the culture dish, just as humans retreat from mountain lions and muggers in dark alleys. They also gravitated to nutrients, just as humans gravitate to breakfast, lunch, dinner and love. These opposing movements define the two basic cellular responses to environmental stimuli. Gravitating to a life-sustaining signal, such as nutrients, characterizes a growth response; moving away from threatening signals, such as toxins, characterizes a protection response. It must also be noted that some environmental stimuli are neutral; they provoke neither a growth nor a protection response.
My research at Stanford showed that these growth/protection behaviors are also essential for the survival of multicellular organisms such as humans. But there is a catch to these opposing survival mechanisms that have evolved over billions of years. It turns out that the mechanisms that support growth and protection cannot operate optimally at the same time. In other words, cells cannot simultaneously move forward and backward. The human blood vessel cells I studied at Stanford exhibited one microscopic anatomy for providing nutrition and a completely different microscopic anatomy for providing a protection response. What they couldn’t do was exhibit both configurations at the same time. [Lipton, et al, 1991)
In a response similar to that displayed by cells, humans unavoidably restrict their growth behaviors when they shift into a protective mode. If you’re running from a mountain lion, it’s not a good idea to expend energy on growth. In order to survive — that is, escape the lion — you summon all your energy for your fight or flight response. Redistributing energy reserves to fuel the protection response inevitably results in a curtailment of growth."
In other words, living in a constant state of survival (as unsteady income might cause), severely restricts a person’s capabilities to grow in a healthy way.
> Objective: Income volatility presents a growing public health threat. To our knowledge, no previous study examined the relationship among income volatility, cognitive function, and brain integrity.
> Methods: We studied 3,287 participants aged 23–35 years in 1990 from the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults prospective cohort study. Income volatility data were created using income data collected from 1990 to 2010 and defined as SD of percent change in income and number of income drops ≥25% (categorized as 0, 1, or 2+). In 2010, cognitive tests (n = 3,287) and brain scans (n = 716) were obtained.
> Results: After covariate adjustment, higher income volatility was associated with worse performance on processing speed (β = −1.09, 95% confidence interval [CI] −1.73 to −0.44) and executive functioning (β = 2.53, 95% CI 0.60–4.50) but not on verbal memory (β = −0.02, 95% CI −0.16 to 0.11). Similarly, additional income drops were associated with worse performance on processing speed and executive functioning. Higher income volatility and more income drops were also associated with worse microstructural integrity of total brain and total white matter. All findings were similar when restricted to those with high education, suggesting reverse causation may not explain these findings.
> Conclusion: Income volatility over a 20-year period of formative earning years was associated with worse cognitive function and brain integrity in midlife.
Edit: I'm not saying coping with loss is easy, especially if that is a loss of your ability to support yourself. The context of this conversation is someone killing themselves, and I think it'd be great if we came together and tried to convince people to live.
Instead people wrongly think fast food is cheaper than home cooked food.
Not sure your point of "no money for good food"
Source- calories and protein and vitamins per dollar
Edit- fast food is not necessarily faster. Carrots and protein shakes are faster than waiting in line for example.
Fast food is cheaper than home cooked food when you factor in time & mental effort. Cooking at home requires skills that many people do not have.
Yes weekend meal prep is a thing too - but freezer space is at a premium in shared households and there's always the threat of a roommate or family member taking the food for themselves.
I think you severely underestimate the power of teamwork.
That's how our family has survived through 90s. This grandma will watch after everyone's kids. That only guy who has a car will buy cheap potatoes in bulk for everyone.
Even just the church tradition of organizing bringing food to somebody in the community who is sick, indisposed or undergoing a stressful time in their lives (think: just had a kid) is falling by the wayside.
Morning porridge: pour water into oats. Microwave for 2 minutes.
Dinner: pour water into rice. Boil for 10 minutes. Add a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store.
My 7yo does it. Do you seriously think there's a non-disabled adult incapable of pouring water in a bowl?
I seriously think there are non-disabled adults that would never think to pour water into a bowl for oatmeal. That's the crux of my argument. The meta cognitive step to "change the status quo" appears to be beyond the capability of most people.
At least it's cheap, reasonably healthy and tasty.
You'd be surprised. Ever heard e.g. of "syrup sandwiches"?
Or dozens of other ways poor people get by with no money for food?
It's not just "fast food". And even that, it's not because they "wrongly think fast food is cheaper than home cooked food" -- it's because fast food is less stressful to make when you have to work like crazy, in excruciating jobs to make ends meets, and requires less time...
>People don't want to face cold hard truths.
Yeah, no shit. People are too busy trying to survive instead of trying to figure out life's "truths".
I think your statement is unlikely to be true. It will, of course, depend on your specific definitions, but from twin studies we've found that intelligence seems to be heritable. It's even a fairly strong effect:
>The heritability of intelligence increases from about 20% in infancy to perhaps 80% in later adulthood.
Other studies have found a similar effect. Due to us observing this kind of a heritability effect (one that grows stronger as we age), I think it's unlikely that random events, such as trauma and hardships, are the main cause for lower levels of cognitive development. They certainly play a role in it, because they absolutely do affect cognitive development negatively, but I wouldn't bet money on this being the main reason.
Note that even though  favors the maternal womb environment over genetics as a factor in intelligence, it's still a factor that the individual in question had no control over.
>Yeah, no shit. People are too busy trying to survive instead of trying to figure out life's "truths".
I think in this case the parent was referring to people who discuss and solve these kinds of problems, rather than the people actually going through them.
...define success? It sounds like you're implying wealth is a meritocracy.
I think in both cases the answer is partly, because in both cases some kind of misfortune prevents them from achieving the desired result, and brain not functioning well is one such misfortune. There are many other ways to become poor, so being poor won't tell you much about intelligence, but most of less intelligent people will be poor.
Also, people tend to hang out with other people making roughly the same as them, which compounds the problem.
The study doesn't make any mention of doing tests throughout their lifespans so it's hard to claim that income stability impairs brain function.
At best there is a correlation and it makes more sense to me that impaired brain function leads to income instability, not the other way around.
I am not saying that this is true, but it is possible that people with unsteady incomes are more risk-taking, which in itself is a psychological traits which may be linked to poorer performance in iq-like test in middle age.
Eaten nothing but packets of ramen for months on end probably takes more of a toll on the brain than a light wallet.
Also, the stress of poverty is known to cause cognitive issues IIRC
One of the things I find difficult is sharing. Even to close friends, but I don't feel the need to. Maybe I just have been hanging out with the wrong people lately, which I have stopped seeing recently - and to which I have been feeling better since. I'll have to give some thought into the the word "difficult" I decided to use - but I'll leave that for some other time.
I have been teaching myself programming on and off for a few years now. After having had some health issues last year, I ended up five days in a public hospital and stopped programming until earlier this year when I took it up again.
The experience in that hospital was bizarrely amusing, but I won't digress. I'm guessing the onset was due to some combination of stress and/or burnout. After the hospital it took months to recuperate.
In that time I didn't have much energy would do some light reading and came across an article, right here on HN about sourdough.
All in all, having a hobby helps. And I'm quite fortunate to have a family that provides food and a roof. But it is taxing on so many levels not to be able to help out, to provide. And with the upcoming holidays it gets hard. It hits me hard.
F*. When I started writing this I did not expect it to take that turn. Let's get back on track.
Right. I picked up programming again earlier this year. Funnily, things started to click. I don't know why, maybe the break helped. Anyhow, looking for jobs is another thing that takes a toll on you. I've never worked in the industry, nor have I had a job for too long. I try to search for jr. jobs and when I do find one, the rejection after rejection does not make it easy.
And despite the sorrow sounding note of this, this is just me venting to strangers on the net. And by the age of the thread, few people will read, if any at all.
I stopped talking to the few acquaintances. People who weren't contributing anything positive in my life. And I have to say, I have been more productive since.
And that's not to mention all the other tabs that are open. A back-burner of things I want to learn.
Things may get tough, as they always will. But it's all about knowing when to slow down. Take a deep breath, and every now and then, vent.
People who confuse what's possible but 10x more difficult for some income groups/backgrounds, to be the same as being equally possible and as easy. Or that think that just because some outliers managed to win the hard mode, everybody should be able to (and are just lazy if they don't) - while ignoring lucky breaks and mitigating circumstances in their case, e.g. you might be poor, but not have a parent sick to take care of. Or you might be an immigrant, but have parents working their ass off to get you to college. Or you might have a stable family as opposed to abuse. Or your teachers might not care at all to encourage you.
This is not about telling people not to try. This is about recognizing that even trying is not "equally easy", and that outlier success stories doesn't mean the game is not rigged against those from poor backgrounds. And perhaps finding ways to fix this issues (e.g. reducing poverty, abuse, stress factors for poor people, better educational districts, and so on).
There is definitely a culture of anti-intellectualism and escapism among the poor in the US (my background). Sure, the rich kids have it easy and it's super easy to sit around feeling bad about that but in many, many cases people could better themselves with a modicum of effort.
I grew up asking everyone (friends, family, neighbors): Why won't you read book? Why do you "hate" math? Why are computers "for nerds"? Why do you spend all of your time watching football?
I'm now much more successful than the people who ignored or derided me during that time period.
Was it easy for me to get ahead? No. But it is possible; oh and I wasn't one of those people with parents who worked hard, a good family life or supportive community around me. I was on my own.
If you want to spend all day, every day watching sports then it shouldn't be an issue if you don't get a head in life. It's a personal choice, but you can't have it both ways.
I too am one of those people who overcame a lot early in life.
Our choices matter. Of course they do.
What is often not discussed is a reasonable, modest life. For many people, that is all they want, and our current society is growing toxic to it. The "game" of life does not need to be as hard as it currently is. Nor does it need to select for extremes.
No matter how great our ability to choose is, the fact is only a fraction of us will do well, and the rest are going to really struggle and that is unnecessary.
The other fact is luck plays a huge role.
I'm not entirely sure it's unnecessary. Not everyone can live an upper middle class lifestyle.
My main message is that there's culture changes that can and must be enacted within those communities or individuals that will provide opportunity.
A majority are struggling today.
Examples elsewhere in the world are not hard to find.
Wealthy people purpose most of their time.
The majority struggling are poor in this sense.
That is unnecessary.
As a species, yes! We are doing well.
Here, right now, in the US, a majority suffer. Their income is not up to their cost and risk exposure, particularly with health care.
They labor too much.
I could go on.
Massive gains have not played out as solid gains in life quality and wealth basics most would agree were set decades ago.
Blaming people holds no answers.
But if these people who make poor choices and then look for handouts, from your tax dollars, then you have right to complain about their lifestyle.
I had to support my brothers for a long time. They just stayed with my parents, played video games all day, hung out with wrong crowd at night, and complained about lack of money. My parents would guilt me into giving my brothers some handout. And then they complained about capitalism.
And I would complain about them not working and not able to do thing I wanted to with my money but my parent always shamed me for being selfish.
After a lot of nagging and many time refusing to give handouts, they slowly got decent jobs and are doing pretty good. I just wish I had nagged earlier and stopped supporting their lifestyle with my money.
So based on my personal experiences, I don't agree that we should spend our tax dollars on helping poor but don't shame them about their unhealthy lifestyle.
But my tax dollars go to handouts for things I think are bad choices all the time to the wealthy! My tax dollars are used to subsidize industries I don't agree with to continue in their wasteful useage of resources. If we are to protest bad decisions begging for handouts, we should first complain about the lifestyles of board members of companies.
Johnson and Johnson knowingly created abestos-laden baby powder and they recieved 8 million in federal subidies, 80 million in state/local ones. With an additional 10 million in federal loans. 
The more I see how the democratic platform has devolved in the last 4 years, the more I have come to understand and agree with the decision in Citizens United. Right now, we have at least two candidates talking about a pretty extreme wealth tax (which is a tax on money you've already paid a ton of taxes on) all because others are envious of what they have and just want to use mob rule to steal.
Allowing money to influence votes, in a way is not unlike how a bicameral congress works. We have one that has equal representation (the Senate) and one that has proportional representation (the House). Similarly, every one has one vote (equal representation) and the ability to donate money to influence those votes and the amount of influence you are able to exert is proportional to the amount of value you've accrued from mutually beneficial voluntary transactions with others in that society whereby you provided to them some good or service they found valuable (proportional representation).
Money in politics is one of the greatest forces for the protection of private property. Without it, we'd likely devolve into a place like Venezuela where private property is seized unilaterally without recompense because the people voted for someone who promised them that they would use the government's right to licit first use of force to take private property from private citizens.
Had Martin Niemöller been born in pre-Soviet Union Russia or pro-Chavez Venezuela, he might have started his poem this way instead:
"First they came for the billionaires..."
Eventually, they'll come for the middle and upper middle class like they've done in many countries that become communist/socialist in the 20th and 21st centuries.
This is not to say that money in politics isn't a corrupting force, it is. But a democracy is also corrupting. The two balance each other out.
"A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the majority discovers it can vote itself largess out of the public treasury. After that, the majority always votes for the candidate promising the most benefits with the result the democracy collapses because of the loose fiscal policy ensuing, always to be followed by a dictatorship, then a monarchy." — Alexander Fraser Tytler (possibly Alexis de Toqueville)
The poor are not always poor by choice. I won’t even get into poverty caused by unequal sentencing from the same crimes, official government policies with red lining, etc.
Blame and shame really aren't productive.
Given the strong role luck has in our lives, improving on society such that people can figure out how to live better a little more comfortably makes a lot of sense as well.
I'm reminded of all the people who weren't allowed back into evacuation zones during the latest surge of forest fires to save more belongings from their house. People invoke the reasonable point of "I should be able to make that gamble if I want" but in reality, if they were to find themselves in danger, they'd be squandering resources of emergency responders having to save them and the attention of other people who should be working on evacuating swiftly rather than saving their neighbor.
It's not always obvious where to draw the line when concerning ourselves with the actions of others.
We shouldn't be prioritizing anyone's interests via an institution with the right to licit first use of force. We have the technology now to charge people directly for the government-provided services they use. If you use it, you should pay for it. Until we start doing this, society is never going to price things properly and prices are the fastest mechanism for a society to communicate what is important.
Unilaterally taking away IOUs someone has accumulated without recompense merely deprioritizing someone's interests. It's theft.
> it could just be the rebound from society over-subsidizing your lifestyle.
what aspects of my lifestyle do you believe society over-subsidizing?
Right. We should leave it to individuals with power and influence accrued during the current era, where we... prioritized some people's interests via an institution with the right to licit first use of force. Usually based on heritage.
This is definitely a good idea that you have had.
>what aspects of my lifestyle do you believe society over-subsidizing?
Depends on what your decadent western trade and hobbies are.
I empathize with the fact, that for many people who do want to better themselves, they're often surrounded by people who don't want to. And that's a tough situation to be in -- that can drag you down. It's tough to persevere in certain situations.
So yeah, if you have the grit and drive you can help yourself out to a certain point. But some of us didn't need any grit and basically coasted through life. Why do I deserve this more than kids with less well off parents that fell somewhere between me and you - not a complete lazy ass, but also not determined enough to overcome the problems and external pressures in their life?
It's the same thing that drives the success of societies and nations, each generation living on the bounty of the blood, sweat, and toil of those that came before. An outsider may view with envy at the position of the people in the society, but it doesn't diminish the rights of the people in that society to it just because they didn't make it. What happens is those societies that destroy, denigrate, or forget their history get complacent, lazy, and fail.
Your parents likely failed in properly educating you in the history of your family, their trials, their successes, and you lacked context for your position in life.
Deep dive into your family history, learn your ancestors, the shit they had to deal with, why you are where you are, and erase the self loathing class warfare mentality from your perspective.
I think you will find most poor people work a lot harder than the wealthy.
If you want to become rich, put a small amount of money in the stock market, and then go into hibernation for 100 years. When you wake up, presto, you’ll be wealthy.
This sounds implausible, but it’s basically the same process as inherited generational wealth.
And in this case, the externality you're bringing up is that oftentimes being raised poor means you're being raised in an anti-intellectual environment. And that externality is something that a lot of poor people have to deal with.
It's another instance in which the game appears to be rigged against those from a poor background.
"Rich people stacked the deck against you and there's nothing you can do about it" is not helpful in any way. I saw one of the biggest issues was people feeling sorry for themselves and feeling helpless. This is why I react negatively when people who are clearly trying to help poor people do it in ways that don't espouse personal responsibility. It's well meaning, but counterproductive.
Does anyone even say that?
It's not rich people stacking the deck, it's nature. The rich just happen to have a lot more tools (money) available to deal with that deck.
> It took a tremendous amount of strength and faith in myself to ignore literally everyone I knew and do what I thought was best.
You even touch on it here, so clearly you are aware that your struggles had nothing to do with rich people (except maybe tangentially) but with the environment you were in. That's what people talk about when they talk about the deck being stacked against someone.
One likely way to parse that is as a generalization of all poor people, which I think is inaccurate and harmful.
In this case, I have a sense that a certain generalization is very present in society, and harmful (e.g., a barrier to solving problems of injustice, or otherwise adversely affects how we treat each other). Someone might be speaking of their own anecdotal experience, and upset about that, and not thinking about why it might be important not to make blanket generalizations from that.
First off, I want to make it clear I respect that you likely feel like the parent comment takes away from your hard work. No one is questioning that hard work and perseverance makes a difference in life. You and I are probably good examples of that.
However, I want to also make it clear that even though we got where we are today through hard work, it doesn't hurt either of us to consider how much further we could have gotten (or how much faster) if we were afforded the advantages others had.
For instance, I wish I could go start my own business, but I have to weigh the fact that I have zero social safety net. As such I'm left to save for at least few years in a salaried position before I can even consider it (and yes, I do hack my own side projects in my off hours). You're probably thinking I should just go do it, right? Well, I need the medical insurance unfortunately. I have a sleep disorder called sleep apnea (and before you assume I'm fat or something, I'm a gym rat). One night without my machine will likely result in my death one day (my AHI is 79). Now consider those who have it worse than me!
Inequality is a given, it's not a debate to be had. What if you had been born blind? Or with fetal alcohol syndrome? Just do some hard work friend! What if you not only lacked a system of support, but had a system of the opposite? People actively trying to ruin your life while growing up? This is a reality for a lot of folks!
So when you say "it's possible!", yes of course it is. But is it likely? No. The environment you're born in, the safety net you have, the people around you, the medical conditions you have, they all have a tremendous effect on your life. To suggest otherwise is foolish at best, but more likely willfully ignorant and prideful. Am I proud to be where I am? Yes, and a discussion on inequality doesn't make me feel threatened. It shouldn't feel threatening to you either.
Yes, hard work like ours can sometimes overcome terrible scenarios. But even I know I could wake up tomorrow with cancer and find my life savings drained. No amount of hard work can save me from that situation.
You're also assuming that those friends / family / neighbors you grew up with didn't work hard. Just because they weren't successful (your words by the way, not their own I'm sure), doesn't mean they didn't work hard. Hard work does not equate to "success" (or what you think of as success) in all scenarios. That's life.
The parent comment tried to explain all this, and honestly probably did a better job than I did, but I figured I would offer you my point of view.
The thing is, dwelling on that is not healthy or actionable. We can't go rewrite the past. My point is that there's great social inertia in the lower classes to pressure individuals into lifestyles that are harmful to their chances of success. There's actually zero downside in trying to change the culture to be less anti-intellectual.
There's a lot of harm created by the inequality in our society but there are also self defeating properties of culture independent of that. Changing the culture seems like a prerequisite to capture any gains created via any other systemic change. After all, what good is opportunity if you don't want to take it.
You may think people have lots of opportunities but that's not useful if they're not aware they have those opportunities.
After my 1st job a colleague/friend that had left poached me to move with a 80% pay rise.
Ten years later same thing happened with another colleague/friend.
It would be easy to see how I could still be on a manufacturing line, some of the people I worked with are still there.
With out a bit of help from friends I would not be where I am today.
Being extremely talented/a .1%er will get you far but having good role models and a bit of luck is almost as good.
She has now moved back primarly because her v smart daughter saw her career as working on the check out in a supermarket as there are not many high paying jobs out in east Anglia.
Which is the problem of moving from SV to some where cheap you could be limiting your kids opportunities.
The downside of being raised in a well-off family (at least anecdotally/ from my circle of friends) is that the children already have almost everything they could desire, and they take this stuff for granted, and as such they tend to put less effort into "life". Yes they need less effort to be successful - but they are also used to "less effort", so they don't try as hard. This balances the game a little, for those less fortunate. But I can totally see how if your background is too bad, the game is actively rigged against you, and it's not humanly possible to overcome your condition. That's probably where the society needs to focus the most.
Even rich kids playing on easy mode still do much better - kids with wealthier parents who do less well academically, still tend to go on to earn more later in life than poorer kids who do better 
I've put stints in at charities in this space, and there are people who care and trying to move the needle, but there are mountains to climb on this issue.
Improving education for kids from poorer backgrounds is one of the main ways we can solve the issue. One issue we face though is the anecdata brigade rolling out the "I did this and I only have half a GCSE in woodwork". A lack of aspiration as a result of background familiarity, and an acceptance of mediocrity from society and even some working in education are key things.
 just one source for stats: https://www.theguardian.com/society/2019/apr/30/social-mobil...
That doesn't seem to work unfortunately. Good if it does for you :)
Raw, undirected effort does not do much. Effort needs to be deployed in a time, context and circumstance dependent way to yield results. The correlation between effort and outcomes is only because seizing an opportunity requires effort. So if there are several people in an obviously opportunity-rich environment, the ones who expend more effort to seize them will prosper more.
There are two questions; the first is does the environment present opportunities? A poor child in Africa with Ebola no doubt has less opportunities than a healthy one born into a wealthy western banking family. The second questions is what does opportunity look like? Many modern problems exist because people are simply blind to the opportunities that surround them.
The interplay of those two questions is beyond complex and has so far resisted any one-size-fits-all solution to the human condition.
Rigged isn't a fair word, it's just reality.
Also, as another commenter pointed out, there are people that are successful in a wide range of ways, money is just one of them. And those that had it easy early on often times don't do well later in life when things can get hard.
Edit: I spent time on the streets as a teen (yes it affected me) but my siblings did not, but they are worse off then me. I hit bottom and bounced back, they are still struggling in many ways. (not just money)
It's only reality because people accept it. If we stop accepting it the reality can be changed. For example, for several hundred years many people accepted slavery and believed owning people was justifiable. When enough people decided not to accept that reality it was changed fairly quickly.
Practices can change, and it's nice to think that once we realized it was possible for "owning people" to not be a thing, we simply made it not a thing, but in fact mindsets can be the slowest to change.
Eradication of an evil social practice is not like invention of a science or technology. We invent the car or the computer, and 25 years later it's in every country on the planet. The Father of History mentions the ills of slavery, and 2500 years later we still haven't quite got this thing licked.
It can be similarly argued that the modern income/opportunity distribution owes its continues existence to the fact that enough people believe that it exists and is lawful.
> When you go too far up, abstraction-wise, you run out of oxygen. Sometimes smart thinkers just don’t know when to stop, and they create these absurd, all-encompassing, high-level pictures of the universe that are all good and fine, but don’t actually mean anything at all.
I'm using the word in that sense of "The reality is that I can't afford to buy a Ferrari"; it's (sadly) true, but it could change in the future.
The universe and the laws of physics are "just" reality.
Other things, and especially society, is more like what we make them.
Our society and its functioning is not some god- or nature- handed immutable, it's something that we can change, update, fix, build upon etc (and of course, regress).
It is reality, but rigged is a perfectly accurate word, including the implication that this is a deliberate and actively preserved design element and not an accident.
> Also, as another commenter pointed out, there are people that are successful in a wide range of ways, money is just one of them
And virtually all of them are rigged against people with poor backgrounds.
> And those that had it easy early on often times don't do well later in life when things can get hard.
Not as often as those who didn't have it easy early on don't do well later, or simply don't even make it to later in the first place.
I think it's a common enough situation where people who don't suffer enough to change their bad behavior continue in their bad behavior.
To put it in extremes, if someone had a gun to their head right now, could they quit smoking? I'd say most people could. (some people are suicidal)
I had a gun to my head and had to make a choice, my siblings did not.
But back to my point, reality isn't rigged, it is what it is.
There aren't rich people forcing poor people to stay poor at gun point (at least not in free countries). While rich people do make it easier for people in their circle to stay rich though (ignoring the differences in habits). That, I would say is rigged, but not in the way it seems commonly claimed.
But that's reality for you, you work with what you have.
The people arguing against you, exactly what are they thinking? That we should outlaw parents giving their children an edge in life?
They concentrate their efforts on the wrong things. And the solution is generational, teach children they can, and they will.
Yes, I agree completely. But what I learned from my own experience is that I could teach different things to my kids than I was taught. No one forced me to teach the same things.
And I agree there seems to be a general unfairness in the world. How to fix this seems like the hard part because of your other points. (force people to not help their kids?)
Survival bias isn't (necessarily) literal. And you are ascribing your success (relative to your siblings) to drive developed from your rough times, not to a million other possible variables you're not aware of, and your story is just one case.
It is survival bias, regardless of whether your analysis happens to be true.
But don't you think that if everyone who smokes, if they quit today, all of them have a better chance at being healthier in the future? Maybe not all, but wouldn't their chances be greatly improved?
What is the difference between smoking and any other self destructive behavior people have?
As someone who also came from a slightly lower income background I had a lot of support encouraging me to cultivate a habit of reading and from my parents that helped me heaps. Anecdotally, I know many people who came from much higher socioeconomic backgrounds who grew in the exact same environment as I did, couldn't care less about sciences, learning, etc.
The United States has a huge problem of anti-intellectualism and it is looked down upon a lot if you're into computers, a nerd, etc. If you go to third world countries like India, etc. you'll realize that even people who are dirt poor place an extremely huge amount of importance on education. Because time and again, they've seen that the only way to get out of their pit of poverty.
While I get your point, I don’t fully agree with this statement. The anti-intellectual strain is pretty common in India as well, it’s just a bit warped. There definitely is a fetish for getting into a good college and getting the right/prestigious credentials, but actual education (grounded, multi-disciplinary, non-rote-based) is many-a-time sneered upon, at least in my personal experience. I was lucky enough that my parents encouraged reading (they sometimes strained their finances so that my sister and I could get good books). A lot of my peers did not share or appreciate the necessity of reading “outside the syllabus”.
If you read it, the study starts at age 23 and only measures relative income drops.
It doesn't. It has with the common responses to those type of articles.
Instead of spending all that time and effort invalidating the opinion of those who have successfully made it out of those circumstances, why don't you ask them how they did it and what they think can be done to help those who haven't?
The problem with keyboard warriors is that it isn't actually action. It's akin to the studies showing that people who talk about what they're going to do get the same emotional satisfaction from actually doing it.
What you've managed to do is dismiss the very people who have the most insight and made yourself feel better to boot. What's not to like, right?
Don't worry about that, for the types I talk about, we get to hear "how they did it" at every chance they get to brag about it.
People also hear "what they think can be done to help those who haven't", and more often than not, its condescending garbage, like "you just need to try harder", "motivation is key", "those people are lazy", and so on.
They are the worst judges of the factors of their success. For one, as the saying goes, "no winner believes in chance". It's all about their character and grit, nothing circumstantial -- so even if we take their words as gospel, there's nothing there applicable to others, except "change your character".
In fact compared to that, the born-rich are perhaps more considerate than the outliers that made it.
>The problem with keyboard warriors is that it isn't actually action. It's akin to the studies showing that people who talk about what they're going to do get the same emotional satisfaction from actually doing it.
Which is neither here, nor there. This is a discussion, we are all "keyboard warriors" here.
>What you've managed to do is dismiss the very people who have the most insight and made yourself feel better to boot. What's not to like, right?
Or, you know, I've managed to shed some light into things that are still a large problem in modern society, and that people tend to view wrongly.
Also, when you assume (e.g. that I'm poor myself and needed to say those things to "feel better") you make an ass out of, etc...
The important question for a society is how many persons of poor backgrounds move into middle class (and how many middle class persons fall into poverty).
And the answer should be systemic, not just about "laziness" and "lack of motivation" and so on, because that wont explain how some societies manage to have way less pour/homeless/etc and more middle class, and others fail at it. Or how the same society changes its ratios over time...
It turns out human beings can rationalize a lot of things that ought not be rationalized.
While people are having these "insights", the problems are not actually getting fixed. This is because fixing the problem isn't really the goal.
And these people should absolutely be judged for this.
You have a river that separates two climates. One is a barren desert, and the other is a lush forest. You have two villages on each side of this river, and they can see each other off in the distance. But the river is deep, wide, and treacherous.
So the lush village talks a lot about how lucky they are, how unlucky the other village is, and how they should recognize their luck in being born on the lush side of the river. And that's what they do.
How does this help the barren village?
It doesn't, and that's the point. The lush villagers feel as if they're morally good people because, after all, they recognize their luck!
But NONE of them take the ultimate responsibility and try build a bridge. They're content being morally good people who are lucky.
And then imagine one day a barren villager arrives in the lush village. And this villager starts talking about how they crossed the river, and others could too if they were willing to do what this particular villager did.
And the lush villagers start telling this person they're morally bad for believing others can do what they did. What about the disabled and the infirm? But really, the lush villagers just don't want to believe they could have taken the ultimate responsibility to build a bridge because it would lay bare the truth, that they're just as immoral as everyone else. That they COULD have solved the problem, or at the very least lessened the problem. But their goal was never to solve or make it better. Their goal was simply to live with themselves as the beneficiaries of that luck.
The only real difference between this analogy and what we're talking about here is that the solution isn't as clear cut.
What you basically said was "human beings who are taught the right things will be successful because they'll make better decisions in life". Which strongly implies it's not about chance because we as a society could take it upon ourselves to ensure as a society all of our young are taught the right things.
But rather than do that, people teach their children the right things, and then let themselves off the hook for all the other children by "recognizing" how unlucky they are. When they know, they KNOW, when no one is judging and they're being honest with themselves, they know they're just as large a part of the problem due to their own selfishness.
This problem will start getting better when these smug ass keyboard warriors stop recognizing shit and start taking action. When they stop being able to live with their own inaction and are instead pushed to action.
Wouldn't call this science.
Maybe their income dropped because of their lower thinking !
Unsteady income for me came in my forties when I began doing freelance work post-divorce to accommodate a health issue.
But nope. I read it twice looking for a spark of meaning beyond that I wrote in my comment.